One-Horse Town: Unanswered Questions (Chapter 6)

To catch up with our story so far, begin here.

It felt like a life time since he’d last looked up into the night-time and viewed the dazzle of stars above him. Brady lay on his bed roll, saddle for a pillow, in the cradle of some boulders and rocks as the fire burned down to embers.

For days it had been hard to clear his mind of Rosa, of Keene and the town that bore his name. He was happy to be done with it – save for Rosa. Brady slowly drifted into a restless sleep.

“Hallo, the camp,” called a voice.

The call jarred Brady from the first peaceful sleep he’d had in ages. He slipped his revolver from it’s holster and waited for the voice to call again.

“Hallo, the camp,” the voice sang out.

Sitting up Brady returned, “Come into the light and be recognized!”

Not far off came the sound of hooves trudging through the hardened sand and clicking against errant pebbles. Soon Brady could see a figure, behind it two mules and nothing else.

He tossed a couple of sticks on the embers and the camp’s fire jumped to life. The figure moved closer until Brady could see his face.

“John!” Brady nearly shouted as he scrambled to his feet.

The two men shook hands, “Good to see you, too,” John replied.

Adding even more wood to the fire, Brady set the coffee to heating and then dug around for a couple of biscuits to offer his foot-weary guest. “I was wondering how you made out,” he said as he poured some coffee into John’s tin.

“I knew there was gonna be hell to pay,” John explained, “if I stuck around after you escaped.”

He continued to tell how earlier in the same evening when Brady slipped out of the dungeon, he had already made his get away. “I lit a-shuck south, then west and finally north to avoid anyone who might be lookin’ for me.”

John also explained how Rosa came to be captive of George Keene, and it came as a surprise, “She was married to him. By the time she figgered out who and what Keene was all about it was too late, she’d been cut off from her family and had no way to let’em know she was unhappy.”

Brady sat their absorbing the information. He realized he’d made he out to be more than human, nearly angelic in his mind, and that she had escaped a bad marriage and he had butted in where he shouldn’t have been.

“Saw what happened to the town,” John added. “Alcala and his men pretty much razed it. Kinda reminded me of Charleston back in the war betwixt the states. I was only a youth then, but it’s something I never forgot. Been workin’ my way west ever-since.”

Before the pair knew it, the sun was pushing it’s way up over the eastern-edge of the distant mountains. With no sleep the two ate a quick breakfast of fried potatoes and more coffee, before striking camp and starting north.

“Still can’t figure how come she picked me to help her,” Brady stated.

John smiled and laughed slightly, “She asked every stranger that rode into Keene. She was desperate.”

“But, why not simply ride off on her own?” Brady asked, not expecting an answer and none was coming.

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One Bad Apple

In a land that grows the best apples in the world, one has to be more than simply impressive to better the best. Grimhilde de Queen was exactly that person, proving it when she brought home the coveted Pomological Society Award to her hillside burg.

The treasure to her prize: the Red Delicious Apple. “So fair an apple, it should be in pictures,” proclaimed the Daily Mirror.

And indeed it was ‘rotoscoped,’ as she gave one to Walt. Sadly, her fame ended there, as the apple poisoned a fairy-taled princess, beginning Grimhilde’s fall into the burning pit of rock-and-roll fame.

Methuselah

Wandering the desert, it’s reddish sands, climbing one hill, stumbling down another. Desolation Wilderness; perfectly named, perfectly hostile.

He’s searching for that place, one he knew well in childhood, a dimming memory each day. Sun baking his skin, wind drying his tongue, continuing to call out her name, always that singular thought: her.

Finally. Bathed in her lengthy shadow, struggling to stay standing in her presence, her gnarled, twisted, withered limbs enveloping him.

Singing his song of death, he’s following the ancient way of his Fathers. Dying, casting up Spirit, entwining with hers, growing as straightened as Methuselah’s standing braided.

Animal Lover

In her youth, Lydia went on a tour of Africa, where she found a female lion cub, limping and alone. She coaxed the cub into the Land Rover with food, checked it’s paw, removing a large stick from between its toes pads.

A few years later Lydia, visiting a wild game park in California, saw a lioness she believed recognized her. The lioness stood by her Prius, raising it’s formerly injured paw.

Knowing it was the same animal she’d helped, she got out and approached it. Subsequently, the lioness mauled her to death.

The moral: don’t be stupid like Lydia.

Game On

“Come out to the desert,” they said.

“We’ll play some paintball and do some exploring,” they said.

“It’ll be fun,” they said.

“My dog and I showed up — and the fuckers ditched us,” I said.

Looking down at Rover, he woofs, “Let’s go and make those assholes pay.”

He knows that I speak fluent ‘canine,’ and I do so without the slightest hint of an accent. For his part, Rover thinks in ‘human.’

“Let’s,” I smile.

“When finished,” Rover gruff-gruffs, “Can I roll in them?”

While I’m not prone to fits of laughter, I emit a slight chuckle, “Sure, pal.”

Red Dog Dot

Welcome to my artistic paint-fest for the month of May. I was trying to do something slightly different with this piece of ‘so-called’ artwork, after I saw a drawing on social media that caught my fancy.

It was the single line drawing of a dog in black ink, very reminiscent of the Japanese style of ‘sumi-e.’ It also reminded me of the time in my life when I worked as a keno writer at a couple of area casinos back in the day, using a bamboo ink brush.

My skill with the brush, I’ve realized, is extremely rusty and the single-line drawing didn’t come out as I had envisioned. But that’s okay.

And for the record, I started to keep track of the number of dots, but I lost count.

All in a Name?

While downtown at an annual event playing out along the river, I watched a four-year-old boy terrorizing both animals and other children. He chased after and tossed rocks at birds, purposely stomped on one girl’s toes and had to be warned not to tease a German Shepherd, who remained calm during the ear-pulling and tail-tugging.

“What a little monster,” I thought, reflecting on how well-behaved my son had been at that age.

Then the child’s dad called to him: “Come on Vlad, we’re leaving!”

“You don’t suppose…naah…couldn’t be,” I thought adding, “It does, however, seem to explain an awful lot.”